Welcome to Mark Barry's Review Blog - SOUNDS GOOD, LOOKS GOOD. It features in-depth reviews for Quality CD Reissues/Remasters - all with Discography Info (Amazon UK Top 10 Reviewer).
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Rants, Raves and High Geekery.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
"Atom Heart Mother" by PINK FLOYD (September 2011 EMI 'Discovery Edition' Remaster AND January 2016 'Pink Floyd Records' CD Reissue) - A Review by Mark Barry...
Emerging from the Syd
Barrett-led 60ts phase – PINK FLOYD started the new decade with the frankly
bizarre "Atom Heart Mother" – a late 1970 album that signalled the
new more Prog sound to come - but in "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast"
held onto the lunacy of old. And you have to give them credit for the name
"Atom Heart Mother" and the wacky utterly unforgettable artwork – a
lone moo-moo staring out at us from a field wondering what in God’s name is
that man doing pointing a camera at my posterior when I’m just trying to graze
some grass here? Curiouser and Curiouser...
Always a task trying to find
a decent vinyl copy original – the length of the LP at just over 52 minutes did
for its fidelity too. But all of that is thankfully part of the past because
this 2011 James Guthrie and Joel Plante CD Remaster is a massive improvement on
a dog’s ear of a recording (relaunched January 2016 on Pink Floyd Records).
Here are the Holy Cows and the Funky Dung...
UK re-released 8 January
2016 – "Atom Heart Mother" by PINK FLOYD on Pink Floyd Records PFR5
(Barcode 5099902894027) is a straightforward 5-track reissue CD using the
Remaster from 2011. It's once again housed in a gatefold card digipak, has a
stickered sleeve (on the outer shrink-wrap) with the new catalogue number PFR5,
a 12-page colour booklet with photos and lyrics and the same barcode as the
2011 issue (52:06 minutes). The original album gatefold is the centre pages of
the booklet while the lyrics (never on the original) are now featured over new
photographs of shovels and a pair of boots and other useless and pointless
images. It looks nice for sure but informs you of nothing – no history – no
liner notes – no updates or insights. It’s a damn shame that 2016 wasn’t used
as a way to pump up the booklet into something special from their laughable
'discover nothing' from our 'discovery' editions of 2011. In fact you could
argue that this 'Pink Floyd Records' 2016 reissue is in itself 'corporate' –
the very thing they raged so much against on "Animals" and "The
Wall" in 1977 and 1979.
The original version of this
Remaster was released 26 September 2011 as a 'Discovery Edition' single CD on
EMI/Harvest 50999 028940 2 7 (Barcode 5099902894027) – this 2016 version on
Pink Floyd Records uses that 2011 remaster and the same artwork. The 'Discovery
Edition' sticker is gone as is the horrible 'green and blue Ds' reinvented CD
artwork that came with the 2011 issue – that's thankfully been replaced on the
CD with the front album cover artwork.
1. Atom Heart Mother
(a) Father's Shout
(b) Breast Milky
(c) Mother Fore
(d) Funky Dung
(e) Mind Your Throats Please
2. If [Side 2]
3. Summer '68
4. Fat Old Sun
5. Alan's Psychedelic
(a) Rise And Shine
(b) Sunny Side Up
(c) Morning Glory
Tracks 1 to 5 are their 5th
album "Atom Heart Mother" – released 10 October 1970 in the UK on
Harvest SHVL 781 and in the USA on Harvest SKAO-382. Produced by PINK FLOYD and
NORMAN SMITH – Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London in 1970 – it peaked at
No. 1 in the UK and No. 55 in the USA.
PINK FLOYD was:
DAVID GILMOUR – Lead Guitar
ROGER WATERS – Bass, Guitar
RICHARD WRIGHT – Keyboards
NICK MASON – Drums
Guests: JOHN ALLDIS CHOIR on
parts of "Atom Heart Mother"
Mastered by JAMES GUTHRIE
and JOEL PLANTE at Das Boot Recording Studios in Tahoe in California in 2011 -
the original 1st generation master tapes have been given a thorough going over
(Guthrie is a Sound Engineer associated with the band since 1978). In fact -
each song feels like these experts have spent a staggering amount of time
worrying over every single nuance - because the audio result is truly
impressive. That 2011 remaster has been reused for the January 2016 reissues.
The entirely instrumental
Side 1 six-part suite "Atom Heart Mother" runs to 23:42 minutes and
typically fades in with mad brass and a droning synth note.Avant Garde artist RON GEESIN being the fifth
accredited writer along with the four boys in the band – gives us a cornucopia
of sounds - cars starting up – engines turning over – until it all settles down
into a "Meddle" like duo of Richard Wright on Organ and Gilmour on
Guitar. The clarity as Gilmour solos over that brass and lone organ is
impressive – and as the still unidentified leading lady of the John Aldiss
Choir comes sailing in – you can so hear where Mike Oldfield got some of his
more orchestral ideas for "Tubular Bells" and "Ommadawn"
from. When they fade out and we’re in "Funky Dung" – the Remastered
Wright/Gilmour combo of Organ and Guitar is superb and certainly more muscular
than I’ve ever heard it - and I still can’t make out what the Kate Bush-mad
chanting voices are saying (very cool though).
After the indulgence of Side
1 - Side 2’s "If" comes as an Acoustic relief – Roger Water's
delightfully upbeat "...if I go insane...please don't put your wires in my
brain..." lyrics feeling like 1977 and not 1970. The audio on Gilmour's
guitar is beautiful and even the background Richard Wright Organ/Piano playing
is more evident. Richard Wright then stumps up "Summer '68" which
feels like the kind of pretty song that would have not been out of place on
1972's "Obscured By Clouds" or even Kevin Ayers 1971 Harvest Records
LP "Whatevershebringswesing". The brass and piano are loud and open
for all the right reasons. Gilmour vocals his own "Fat Old Sun" but
I've always felt it was not a great song. The album ends on the nutty 13-minutes
of "Alan Psychedelic Breakfast" where someone babbles on about liking
Marmalade and Porridge as they potter about in a kitchen before keyboards take
over. After the musical interlude - it returns to our still unidentified hero
warbling this time about 'breakfast in Los Angeles' with 'macrobiotic stuff'.
It's fun but that's about all and you can't help thinking that they would have
been better just allowing those lovely Acoustic Guitars in the centre passage
simply play out the album (music boys - remember).
"Atom Heart Mother"
is part genius, part knob and very much an example of an experimental time and
a label prepared to let their artists go a bit bonkers for the sake of their
art. But at least on this 2011/2016 CD Remaster - you can now hear it. And that
faucet tap dripping that looped on the Side 2 run-out groove as your needle
went over to the label can now be heard too. Moo moo indeed... PS: OK - Cue the cow jokes:
I'd review this if only I 'cud' - you should see the 'udder' guy - let's 'milk' this one again - I'd lift this CD but it's too 'heffer' - check out the 'teats' on this one - I think we're 'dung' here...